Wednesday 24 November 2010

Monologues (pt 2)

So let's look at our 3 types of monologue in more detail:

Outside the Scene
This is where the actor (as a narrator or character not in the scene) begins, interrupts or ends the scene delivering information to the audience. I can see two main types:

  • Pure Narration – continuing the story or adding details direct to the audience
  • Meta-monologue – where a character narrates or adds information as a character giving a monologue from outside the scene. (examples include where the story is read from a book or a ghostly voice laments the action that is going on now.)

Inside the Scene
This is where a character in the scene has a monologue. It usually involves one characters taking focus and speaking for longer than normal, totally (or minimally) uninterrupted by the other character(s). They are delivered either partly or directly to the audience. There are two main types based on who the monologue is directed at.

  • Monologue is delivered to the other character(s). There are two types, that I can see:
    • Expected: delivering a speech, lecture or pep talk to a crowd, team, class, jury, wedding guests, boxer, child, etc. Basically in an environment or situation where a speech is expected and the norm is for little interaction with the speaker.
    • Unexpected: where one character in a conversation "goes off on one" and keeps talking, perhaps as a rant, usually revealing what the character thinks or feels or some information the other character didn't know before.
  • Monologue is delivered to the audience. The character tells us, the audience, his or her inner thoughts or emotions, or a secret the other character doesn't know. It can be as short as a sentence, and then it's called an aside.

Solo Scene
This is where the whole scene is a monologue. Usually there is just one actor. (Although others can appear to heighten the monologue or be background, perhaps representing the listeners, but have no (or hardly any) lines. Once these background actors to do more than murmur, it starts to become a scene.) Solo Scenes are nearly always delivered to the audience. And then, in most cases, the audience represents the implied second character, the listening group or the character's own reflection. I count three types of Solo Scene:

  • A character telling something to one or more persons. e.g. giving a speech, pep talk, straight-to-camera piece such as a dating video.
  • As one side of scene or conversation. e.g. being interviewed (where we don't hear the interviewer), on the phone, conversation over garden fence.
  • As a person speaking aloud to themselves, often to a mirror. e.g. preparing for a meeting, rehearsing a part in a play, giving self a pep-talk in the morning, etc.

I don't claim this is exhaustive, but it seems to cover most bases.


  1. Hi Peter,
    Thanks for your useful breakdown. It's given us some additional tasty food for thought. Here's something we've been playing with:
    I hope you find it interesting.

  2. Yeah, I'd say you pretty much covered everything. Great post :)